Anchorage mayor resigns after admitting ‘inappropriate messages’ with TV anchor

Anchorage mayor resigns, admits ‘inappropriate messages’ with TV anchor

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The mayor of Alaska’s most populous city resigned Tuesday, a day after disclosing a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with a local television news anchor.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced his resignation at Tuesday night’s assembly meeting, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Berkowitz, 58, did not attend the meeting but announced his resignation, which will take effect Oct. 23, in a written statement read by his chief of staff, the newspaper reported.

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“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as the mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage,” Jason Bockenstedt said on behalf of Berkowitz. “My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required.”

According to the Anchorage city charter, the assembly chairman, Felix Rivera, will take over as acting mayor.

Berkowitz’s resignation comes a day after he issued a public apology and admitted to engaging in “inappropriate” messages with Maureen “Maria” Athens, 41, years ago. Berkowitz is married.

“I’m embarrassed and ashamed for the hurt I’ve caused my family and our community,” Berkowitz said Monday. “I take responsibility for my actions.”

Athens has worked as an anchor and reporter for Your Alaska Link, which includes television stations KTBY and KYUR.

On Friday, Athens went on social media and posted claims of alleged illegal internet activity by Berkowitz, accusing the mayor of inappropriately posting nude photos to a website, KTUU reported.

The video, which Athens posted on Facebook, accuses the mayor, without evidence or sourcing, of posting inappropriate photos on an “underage girls website,” The Washington Post reported. She pledged to reveal more details on her news broadcast later that night.

The mayor’s office quickly released a statement calling the claims “slanderous” and “categorically false,” KTUU reported.

According to the mayor’s office, Athens, before posting her video online, left a voice message for Berkowitz, The New York Times reported.

In a copy of that message, provided to the newspaper by the mayor’s office, Athens can be heard making anti-Semitic references and saying that she would be exposing the mayor as “a pedophile.”

“I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Athens allegedly said, adding that she would personally kill him and his wife.

Athens was arrested at the Your Alaska Link station later Friday after getting into a physical altercation with Scott Centers, the station’s general manager, according to the Post. Court records noted that Centers was also in a romantic relationship with the reporter, the Daily News reported.

According to police, Athens struck an officer and tried to kick the doors of a police cruiser as she was being arrested, the Post reported. Athens was charged with fourth-degree assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, according to court records.

Athens appeared in court Saturday and posted $100 bail on Sunday, the Daily News reported.

Bill Fielder, the station owner for Your Alaska Link, said the video Athens posted had not been approved, the Times reported, adding that the anchor no longer worked for the station.

“We had no knowledge of it in advance of her posting it,” Fielder told the newspaper.

Berkowitz was elected to his second three-year term as mayor in 2018.